By Kardash Onnig
You’ve heard the refrain: “Why didn’t someone stop the Nazis before they unleashed their barbarism upon the world?”
That question is as ever relevant today, except that it should be posed to our own, American, political leadership.
The latest wave of violence in Israel and Gaza brought fresh evidence of the ongoing human tragedy in that part of the world. While the persistence of such events is hardly surprising - considering that the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remain woefully unresolved – I, for one, am gripped with a sense of exasperation and sheer rage vis-à-vis America’s flagrant racism. This form of hatred, which is just another brand of anti-Semitism, is directed squarely at Arabs and Muslims, and now it’s being manifested, once again, in America’s response to the tragedy.
For the past 60 years, the American public has been brainwashed into demonizing and ultimately dehumanizing Arabs and Muslims. The propaganda machine has blinded not only the public per se, but also intellectuals and artists. These individuals, who are called to represent the very conscience of the nation, are given to offering some ridiculous justification - by, for instance, blaming “Bush,” the neocons, or Christian fundamentalists - when faced with the reality of our own Guernica: the killing of over one million Arabs/Muslims in the past few years.
No! Let’s stop blaming the Republicans and focus on the “liberal bigots,” as Ralph Nader accurately calls them. It seems that Jesse Jackson’s hope that president-elect Obama would end the hegemony of the Arab- and Muslim-haters and their ilk was misguided by the fact that Obama happens to be black. Obama (I voted for Nader) is no Marin Luther King. He is a Harvard lawyer, and didn’t even wait as long as Bill Clinton had to surround himself with Zionists and sympathizers of America’s racism of choice.
We are complacent, fat with one-man shows, and fat with our egos, which blind us. We were led to believe by Madison Avenue that the word “change” was going to do the trick of saving us from the hate that we have created toward the world in which we live. We were bamboozled. And the show goes on.
What we need is nothing less than a Boston Tea party to rid our hearts of the cancer of racism, just as our forefathers rid the colony of the unjust the British tyrany.
What is the artist’s role in all this? It is “to speak out, to make a clean breast,” writes R. G. Collingwood. “As spokesman for his community, the secrets he must utter are theirs. The reason why they need him is that no community altogether knows its own heart; and by failing of this knowledge a community deceives itself on the one subject concerning which ignorance means death” (The Principles of Art).
Michelle Obama was right when she announced that she was embarrassed to be a citizen of the United States. I, too, am embarrassed, not only by the American public in general but by “friends,” who trivialize the issue by claiming that my “anti-Semitism” is blinding me, just as it had Jimmy Carter, Joseph Campbell, Nietzsche, Wagner, and others.
People tell me it is suicidal for my profession to go against the Zionists. I tell them I must
Live and act according to my frofession…an artist…a spokesperson for my community,
Uttering out loud our secrets and self deceptions.
This letter is my Guernica. Wake up, America.